World Heritage Sites in India: List of Heritage Sites in India

By meenakshi|Updated : August 16th, 2022

There are 40 World Heritage Sites In India. The first site listed as a World Heritage site in India was Agra Fort in 1983. The same year, the Taj Mahal, Ajanta Caves, and Ellora Caves were inscribed on the list by the World Heritage Committee. Recently, an important Indus valley civilization, Dholavira, was added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in India, after which India entered the super 40 club.

World Heritage sites in India UPSC is one of the essential topics for the IAS Exam and comes under the Static General Knowledge section. Below, you will learn about the World Heritage sites in India and their division into Natural, cultural, and mixed heritage sites, along with the latest news associated with it.

Table of Content

What are the World Heritage Sites in India?

World Heritage Sites can be any place (an island, lake, forest, monument, desert, or building) recognized as having a particular cultural or physical significance by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization formed the UNESCO World Heritage Convention in 1972. But, India accepted the convention in November 1977. After the acceptance, India became eligible to make its sites a nominee for the list of World Heritage Sites.

As per the 2022 stats, there are 40 World Heritage Sites in India. It stands 6th on the list of the countries with the most significant number of World Heritage Sites in the world. Also, 49 Indian sites have been added to its tentative list.

World Heritage Sites in India Latest news

Before 2021, India had 38 World Heritage Sites, including 7 Natural properties, 30 Cultural properties, and one mixed site. In the 44th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee conducted in 2021, 2 Indian sites were declared as UNESCO World Heritage sites. These are-

  • Ramappan Temple- The Ramappan Temple ( also known as the Rudreswara Temple), Palampet, Telangana, was recognized as a World Heritage site on 25th July 2021.
  • Dholavira- It is a Harappan civilization city found in the Rann of Kutch near the Dholavira village. The historical site was added to the list of World Heritage Sites on 27th July 2021.

List of World Heritage Sites in India

India is a land with 40 World Heritage Sites. Ramappa Temple and Dholavira were recently marked as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. With the addition of Dholavira to the list of World Heritage Sites, India entered the super 40 clubs along with Spain, Italy, Germany, China, and France.

Here is the list of the 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India in increasing order of their addition to the UNESCO Mixed World Heritage Sites below-

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India

State

Year

Agra Fort

Uttar Pradesh

1983

Ajanta Caves

Maharastra

1983

Ellora Caves

Maharastra

1983

Taj Mahal

Uttar Pradesh

1983

Sun Temple, Konarak

Orissa

1984

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram

Tamil Nadu

1984

Keoladeo Ghana National Park

Rajasthan

1985

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

Assam

1985

Kaziranga National Park

Assam

1985

Sundarbans National Park

West Bengal

1987

Nanda Devi National Park and Valley of Flowers

Uttrakhand

1988

Khajuraho Group of Monuments

Madhya Pradesh

1996

Group of Monuments at Hampi

Karnataka

1996

Fatehpur Sikri

Uttar Pradesh

1996

Churches and Convents of Goa

Goa

1996

Group of Monuments at Pattadakal

Karnataka

1997

Great Living Chola Temples

Tamil Nadu

1997

Elephanta Caves

Maharashtra

1997

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi

Madhya Pradesh

1989

Qutb Minar and its Monuments

Delhi

1993

Humayun’s Tomb

Delhi

1993

Mountain Railways of India

Tamil Nadu

1999

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya

Bihar

2002

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka

Madhya Pradesh

2003

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus

Maharashtra

2004

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park

Gujarat

2004

Red Fort Complex

Delhi

2007

The Jantar Mantar

Rajasthan

2010

Western Ghats

Maharashtra, Goa,

Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala

2012

Hill Forts of Rajasthan

Rajasthan

2013

Rani-Ki-Van

Gujarat

2014

Great Himalayan National Park

Himachal Pradesh

2014

Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University)

Bihar

2016

The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement

Chandigarh

2016

Khangchendzonga National Park

Sikkim

2016

Historic City of Ahmedabad

Gujarat

2017

Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai

Maharashtra

2018

Jaipur City

Rajasthan

2020

Kakatiya Rudreshwara (Ramappa) Temple

Telangana

2021

Dholavira

Gujarat

2021

Of these 40 World Heritage Sites in India, 32 are cultural sites, 7 are natural properties and one among them is a mixed site.

UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites in India

UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites in India are sites that offer natural features, physiographical, and geological formations. The UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites in India are-

Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park is an area with minor human interference. It is situated in Assam. It is the home to the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses. Along with it, there are panthers, elephants, bears, and tigers. It was considered one of India's UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites in 1985.

Keoladeo Ghana National Park

Keoladeo Ghana National Park is home to many aquatic birds in winter, including the rare Siberian crane. It has 364 bird species. Keoladeo Ghana National Park was marked as one of the UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites in India in 1985.

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary

Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the foothills of the Himalayas and is composed of tropical forests and alluvial grasslands. It has several endangered species like Indian rhinoceros, Pygmy Hog, Tiger, and Indian elephant. It was marked as the UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in India in 1985.

Nanda Devi National Park and Valley of Flowers

Nanda Devi National Park and Valley of Flowers have meadows of endemic alpine flowers in the western Himalayas. It has endangered and rare animals like blue sheep, snow leopard, Asiatic black bear, and snow leopard. Nanda Devi National Park and Valley of Flowers were recognized as the UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in India in 1988 and 2005, respectively.

Sundarbans National Park

The Sunderbans National Park is located in the Ganges delta, covering about 10,000 km2 of land and water. It has the largest Mangrove forest in the world ( in terms of area). The endangered species of the Sundarbans National Park are aquatic mammals, tigers, reptiles, and birds. It became one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India in 1987.

UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites in India

The UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites in India are comprised of monuments that include architectural work, inscriptions, and monumental sculptures. It also includes archaeological sites. The UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Sites in India are-

Agra Fort

Agra Fort is an important Mughal monument built in the 16th century. It is popularly known as the Laal Qila or the Red Fort of Agra because it is made of red stones. The Agra Fort has an enclosure wall of 2.5 Km. The fort comprises a lot of fairy-tale palaces (Khas Mahal and Jahangir Palace). Along with this, the Agra Fort has two beautiful mosques.

Agra Fort became the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site in India in 1983.

Ajanta Caves

Ajanta Caves are Buddhist cave monuments. These rock-cut caves date back to the 2nd and 1st century B.C. These are the rock-cut caves. During the 5th and 6th century A.D. i.e., the Gupta period, many other richly decorated caves were introduced into the original category. These caves depict the artistic influence over the sculptures and paints of Ajanta and other incredible artworks of Buddhist religious art.

Ajanta Caves were marked as the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site in India in 1983.

Ellora Caves

Ellora caves extend to more than 2km in Maharastra. It comprises 34 monasteries and temples that date from 600 to 1000 A.D. Just like the Ajanta Caves, the Ellora Caves also depict unique artistic creations with good use of technology. Its sanctuaries were devoted to Jainism, Hindusim, and Buddhism.

Ellora Caves were marked as the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site in India in 1983.

Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal is an immense mausoleum built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in Agra. It is made of white marble between 1631 and 1648. This universally admires masterpiece is a symbol of love that depicts Muslim art in India. Taj Mahal was considered the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site in India in 1983.

Sun Temple, Konarak

Sun Temple is located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. It is believed to be built in India's most famous Brahman sanctuaries, i.e., in the 13th century. It is a monumental representation of God Surya (Sun god in Hindu mythology). There are 24 wheels of the cart that is decorated with symbolic designs. This site was marked as the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site in India in 1984.

Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram

Group of Monuments is a group of Santuaries carved out of a single rock along the Coromandel coast. Its rathas, mandapas, giant open-air reliefs, and sculptures depicting Shiva’s glory are famous. The group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram dated back to the 7th and 8th centuries and became a World Heritage Site in 1986.

Qutb Minar and its Monuments

Qutb Minar is another red sandstone monument in Delhi that was built in the 13th Century. It has a unique tapering design with a diameter of 14.32 m at the base and 2.75 m at its peak. It is surrounded by Alai-Darwaza Gate and the two oldest mosques of north India, including Quwwatu'l-Islam. It was built from the material reused from 20 Brahmin temples. Qutb Minar has considered the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site in India in 1993.

Mountain Railways of India

The mountain railways of India comprise three sites- Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, and Kalka Shimla Railway. These three Mountain Railways of India became the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site in India in 1999, 2005, and 2008 respectively.

Hill Forts of Rajasthan

The Hill Forts of Rajasthan is a combination of six grand forts of Jaisalmer, Jaipur, Jhalawar, Sawai Madhopur, Kumbhalgarh, and Chittorgarh. These forts are evident of the Rajput princely power that flourished from the 8th to the 18th century. These forts depict the rich water harvesting structure still in working condition. The Hill Forts of Rajasthan were marked as the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site in India in 2013.

UNESCO Mixed World Heritage Sites in India

The mixed site has both natural and cultural importance. There is only one UNESCO Mixed World Heritage Site in India. It is Khangchendzonga National Park.

Khangchendzonga National Park

Khangchendzonga National Park is located in the middle of the Himalayan range in Sikkim ( North India). There are a large variety of unique glaciers, valleys, lakes, and plains. Along with this, the National park consists of snow-capped mountains. These mountains are entirely covered with ancient forests. Mount Khangchendzonga, the world’s third highest peak, is also situated in the Khangchendzonga National Park.

Apart from their natural importance, the mountains, caves, rivers, etc., hold cultural significance as various mythological stories are linked with them. Sikkim residents worship these objects as different sacred stories and practices are associated with them (as per the Buddhist beliefs).

World Heritage Sites in India UPSC

World Heritage Sites in India UPSC is one of the major topics of the IAS Exam. It holds equal importance in UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains exam. You can check the NCERT Books for UPSC to better understand World Heritage Sites in India and other related topics.

Also, you can judge your knowledge and prepare well for the exams by solving the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers.

World Heritage Sites in India UPSC Questions

Few World Heritage Sites in India UPSC Questions that have been asked in the UPSC exams are as follows-

Questions for Prelims- Which of the following is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site?

  1. Kaziranga National Park
  2. Sundarbans National Park
  3. None of the above
  4. Both of them

Answer- Both of them

Question- Which of the following cities entered the Indian list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Cultural category in 2020?

  1. Delhi
  2. Agra
  3. Jaipur
  4. Kolkata

Answer- Agra

Question for Mains- What are World Heritage Sites? How do they get selected? Can you name at least five such sites from India? Also, discuss their cultural significance.

World Heritage Sites in India UPSC Notes PDF

World Heritage Sites in India are of prime importance concerning the UPSC Exams. So it is essential to know about the topic in detail. You can download the World Heritage sites in India UPSC Notes PDF from the link provided below-

Other Important UPSC Notes
Iran Nuclear DealFundamental Duties
Indian DiasporaJudicial Review
Comptroller and Auditor General of IndiaEmployees State Insurance
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)Collegium System
French RevolutionMauryan Administration

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FAQs on World Heritage Sites in India

  • There are 40 World Heritage sites in India. This includes 7 Natural sites, 32 cultural sites, and one mixed site with Ramappa Temple and Dholavira as the latest addition to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.  

  • The first World Heritage site in India was Agra Fort (also known as Laal Quila). It is located in Agra, India (2.5 km far from the Taj Mahal). UNESCO introduced the Agra Fort to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1983.

  • In 2021, Dholavira was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is located near the present-day village of Dholavira, Khadir bet island, Kutch district of Gujarat. It is believed to be 4500 years old, South Asia's most immaculate. It depicts the most remarkable urban settlements.

  • India is land to 40 UNESCO World Heritage sites. The highest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in India among all the states and the Union Territories is in Maharastra. It has 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites- the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco buildings of South Mumbai, Elephanta Caves, Ajanta Caves, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, and Ellora Caves.

  • As per the 2022 stats, there are 7 UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites in India. These are Kaziranga National Park, Western Ghats, Keoladeo Ghana National Park, Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, Sundarbans National Park, Nanda Devi National Park and Valley of Flowers, and the Great Himalayan National Park. 

  • In India, there is only one UNESCO Mixed World Heritage Site. It is Khangchendzonga National Park, located in Sikkim's middle of the Himalayan range.

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